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New research strongly supports Ontario’s current, universally accessible Full-Day Kindergarten model

February 4, 2021

TORONTO—Today, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) released a new research report, Ontario’s Kindergarten Program: A Success Story – How We All Benefit from Quality Public Full-Day Kindergarten. The report was commissioned by ETFO and provides strong evidence in support of Ontario’s Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) program and its current staffing model. It was researched and written by Dr. Gordon Cleveland, an economist at the University of Toronto.

“We recognize that the FDK model may not be top-of-mind for families and educators at this time, but we do not want this government to think we’ve forgotten about the changes they were considering—changes that would have significant negative impacts on our earliest learners,” says ETFO President Sam Hammond. “FDK has been shown to provide lasting benefits for children’s reading, writing, numeracy, self-regulation and social skill development. It is an investment in human potential and a long-term vision for children we urge the Ford government to continue to support.”

Dr. Cleveland reviewed, analyzed and synthesized evidence from a wide range of studies in Canada and other jurisdictions to assess the impacts of potential FDK reforms. The research tells us that:
  • Early childhood is a vital time for investing in children’s development;
  • Kindergarten is good for children, families and society;
  • When Kindergarten is of particularly high quality, its effects are even better;
  • Kindergarten has a big role to play in reducing inequality;
  • FDK programs have been proven to be better than half-day programs;
  • Ontario’s model of FDK is especially positive for children and families;
  • FDK is often where children’s educational needs are first discovered and addressed;
  • Increasing class sizes will lower Kindergarten quality; 
  • Lowering teacher education qualifications will lower Kindergarten quality; and
  • Ontario’s FDK program is already delivered in a cost-effective way.
From the report: 
Our conclusion is that Ontario’s model of FDK is a success story… The evidence so far on children’s cognitive and social-emotional development in FDK is strongly positive. Existing research gives no basis for believing that expanded class size in Kindergarten or a teaching team without a certified teacher would enhance children’s educational experiences. But the research does suggest that investments geared to improving Ontario’s high-quality Kindergarten program will result in savings on special education costs in later grades.

Adds Hammond, “The current FDK model, which includes a teacher and designated early childhood educator (DECE) working as a team, is universally accessible and provides an equitable start to school for every early learner in Ontario. The government’s focus should be to continue to build on the success of the program.”

The full report and executive summary are linked from ETFO’s website. ETFO is also releasing Celebrating 10 Years of Full-Day Kindergarten, a video that celebrates the history of FDK in Ontario, ETFO’s advocacy for play-based learning, and the current model of a teacher and DECE working as a team. 

ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at

For more information, contact Carla Pereira, ETFO Media Relations, 416-576-9074,